The name of this whiskey confuses me. I assume it is a reference to some nightmarish fan fiction crossover between the worlds of The Dukes of Hazzard, Dune and the Spearmint Rhino “gentlemen’s” club.
I got this sample from Sku and his review notes that this is from the “Spice Dancer series”; as to whether all the releases of Whistlepig Boss Hog 12 were Spice Dancers, I don’t know. If so, I assume they settled upon it after rejecting “Price Chancer” for being too truthful: yes, if you thought the original WhistlePig (which I quite liked) was somewhat overpriced for a 10 yo rye (in the region of $70) then you were doubtless very excited when this was released north of $150. Doubtless it costs a lot more to truck cask strength spirit across the Canadian prairies to Vermont. As this is 100% rye, you see, it was almost certainly distilled by the Canadian Alberta Distillers (who, as far as I know, are the only source of private label 100% rye). My understanding is that going forward WhistlePig—who don’t distill a drop themselves—will be getting their rye from American sources; so the profile of their releases will doubtless change. The price strategy I’m sure will not.
I don’t really know too much about Canadian whisky—like all things Canadian, it is an impenetrable, exotic mystery. My understanding is that most of it is distilled on a small farm in Vermont and shipped back to Canada where it’s mixed with neutral grain spirit, artificial rye flavouring and maple syrup and bottled at as high an abv as 43%. Someone should really write a book about Canadian whisky—there’s so much bad information around on it.
I do know that this Lot 40 release from 2012 has been highly lauded. It was named Canadian whisky of the year for 2013 by Whisky Advocate, narrowly beating out the two other Canadian whiskies your average American whisky drinker can name; and it’s even been spoken of warmly by people who don’t normally throw scores in the 90s around like so much confetti. I really don’t know too much about Canadian whisky and have tasted even less; part of me suspects that there’s a bit of hyperbole surrounding Canadian whisky these days, an attempt to make it the Next Big Thing by people hoping to raise their own profile by association—but I’ll be very pleased if this lives up to the hype.
Continuing in my series of rye reviews (“Two of something is not a series,” ed.) here is a rye that scoffs at High West’s blend of 95% and 80% rye mashbills and proclaims its purity. Yes, this is 100%, bitches, you better recognize. This kind of gangsta talk which comes naturally to me (as you would readily recognize were you to meet me) is not usually associated with either Vermont or Canada, both lands not known for their blackness, either in terms of demographics or soul. Why am I dragging Vermont and Canada into this, you ask, thereby revealing that your knowledge of American whiskey is even poorer than mine? Well, it is because while this rye is sold by the WhistlePig distillery located in Vermont it is actually shipped there from Canada (yes, all of it) and bottled. Like almost every other renowned new American distillery, WhistlePig is yet to bring its own aged distillate to market. It’s going to be darkly hilarious if/when all these whiskies do hit the market they’re markedly worse than the “sourced” whiskies they sold to keep cash flowing in the interim.
But enough foolish preamble! Let us to the whiskey!